BL

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Meet the Japanese robots that do what humans can't

Nearly half the jobs in Japan could be performed by robots in a decade or two, according to a recent study by Nomura Research Institute. If that's the case, then the International Robot Exhibition — IREX for short — is going to be the best place possible to get a glimpse of Japan's future.<p>Held in …

The Art of Quickness: Italo Calvino on Digression as a Hedge Against Death and the Key to Great Writing

When <b>Italo Calvino</b> was offered the 1985–1986 term of the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry — Harvard’s annual lectureship held by such luminaries as T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Aaron Copland, E.E. Cummings, Jorge Luis Borges, Leonard Bernstein, and John Cage — he hurried to …

How to Avoid Work: A 1949 Guide to Doing What You Love

<i>“There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like,”</i> Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1941. Indeed, finding a sense of purpose and doing what makes the heart sing is one of the greatest human aspirations — and yet too many people remain caught in the hamster wheel of unfulfilling work. …

Dialogue

<b>2. It should add to the reader’s present knowledge.</b><p><b>3. It should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation.</b><p><b>4. It should convey a sense</b> …

Four Scientifically Proven Ways To Spark An “Aha Moment”

Research has shown that creativity is about triggering and fostering a conflict in your mind. Use this guide to produce those conflicts.<p>For hundreds of years, scientists, artists, salespeople, and politicians have looked for ways to produce a flash of insight on command. It’s only in the last …

Which children's books sum up the decade they were published?

You may have seen a BBC2 TV programme that my family and I appear in, Back in Time for Dinner<i>.</i> In it, we live life first as a 1950s family, wearing 1950s clothes and eating 1950s food in a 1950s house – and then the following week we’re in the 1960s, and the week after that the 1970s, and so it …

Books

Find A Subject You Care About

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation<p>by Noah Lukeman<p>Adventures in the Screen Trade<p>by William Goldman<p>APE: Author, Publisher, …

9 Tips For Launching A Successful Kickstarter Campaign

If you want to get your big idea off the ground with the help of crowdfunding, you need the right plan and tools.<p>Kickstarter, and other similar crowdfunding platforms, is an incredibly innovative tool to fund your business. I find this is particularly true for women, for whom early-stage funding is …

The Best Children’s Books of 2014

<i>“I don’t write for children,”</i> Maurice Sendak scoffed in his final interview. <i>“I write — and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’”</i><p><i>“It is an error,”</i> wrote J.R.R. Tolkien seven decades earlier in his superb meditation on fantasy and why there’s no such thing as writing for children, <i>“to think of</i> …

11 Brilliant Rube Goldberg Machines

We normally like to keep things simple and do things the easy way, but we’re completely fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines. They require a level of …

Now That I’ve Created Something, How Do I Spread It?

By Nate Kontny5 minute Read<p>A long time ago, a guy flew a kite in a storm. When lightning struck it, the current traveled down the string of the kite …

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

On July 16, 2001, <b>Elmore Leonard</b> (October 11, 1925–August 20, 2013) made his timeless contribution to the meta-literary canon in a short piece for <i>The New York Times</i>, outlining his ten rules of writing. The essay, which inspired the <i>Guardian</i> series that gave us similar lists of writing rules by Zadie …

Why Is Google Building A Robot Army?

In short: robotics world domination<p>Looking back, Google’s emergence as a robotics powerhouse seems obvious—and inevitable. First came the scattered hires of roboticists and the release of self-driving cars into Bay Area traffic. Then, the search giant reportedly bought two humanoid HUBO robots from …

Writers and Their Books: Inside Famous Authors’ Personal Libraries

As a hopeless bibliophile, an obsessive lover of bookcases, and a chronic pursuer of voyeuristic peeks inside the minds of creators, I’m utterly spellbound by <b>Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books</b> — a vicarious journey into the personal libraries of thirteen favorite authors, who share their …

How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Choosing Presence Over Productivity

The meaning of life has been pondered by such literary icons as Leo Tolstoy (1904), Henry Miller (1918), Anaïs Nin (1946), Viktor Frankl (1946), Italo Calvino (1975), and David Foster Wallace (2005). And though some have argued that today’s age is one where “the great dream is to trade up from …

The 13 Best Books of 2013: The Definitive Annual Reading List of Overall Favorites

All gratifying things must come to an end: The season’s subjective selection of best-of reading lists — which covered writing and creativity, photography, psychology and philosophy, art and design, history and biography, science and technology, children’s literature, and pets and animals — comes …

The 13 Best Science and Technology Books of 2013

On the heels of the year’s best reads in psychology and philosophy, art and design, history and biography, and children’s books, the season’s subjective selection of best-of reading lists continues with the finest science and technology books of 2013. (For more timeless stimulation, revisit the …

Why Openness To Experience Is The Key To Creativity

Want to be more creative? Open yourself up to more experiences.<p>Many successful creative people have the same personality trait in common: they are open to new experiences.<p>Psychologist Art Markman defines “openness to experience” as “the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and …

Rise and shine: the daily routines of history's most creative minds

Benjamin Franklin spent his mornings naked. Patricia Highsmith ate only bacon and eggs. Marcel Proust breakfasted on opium and croissants. The path to greatness is paved with a thousand tiny rituals (and a fair bit of substance abuse) – but six key rules emerge Daily Rituals by Mason Currey – review<p>…

What India's space scientists and street children have in common

<b>As India launched a mission to Mars this week, I could not help noting some surprising similarities between the ingenuity of the country's space scientists and its street children - many of whom are creative small-scale entrepreneurs.</b><p>When you see young children darting between lumbering locomotives …

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

If this is indeed the year of reading more and writing better, we’ve been right on course with David Ogilvy’s 10 no-nonsense tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, and various invaluable advice from other great writers.<p>Now comes Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel laureate <b>John Steinbeck</b> (February 27, …

7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living

<b>Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.</b> Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of …

7 Things You Might Not Know About Calvin and Hobbes

Though we can’t pick your friends, we strongly encourage you to ostracize anyone who expresses disinterest or disdain for <i>Calvin and Hobbes,</i> the …

Literature

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens<p>Authors condemn £4m library fund as a ‘sop’ and a ‘whitewash’<p>It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration …

Ray Bradbury on Writing, Emotion vs. Intelligence, and the Core of Creativity

Between 1973 and 1974, journalist James Day hosted the short-lived but wonderful public television interview series <i>Day at Night</i>. Among his guests was the inimitable Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920–June 5, 2012) — beloved writer, man of routine, tireless champion of space exploration, patron saint of …

How Inviting the Unknown Helps Us Know Life More Richly

<i>“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves,”</i> Rilke famously urged. <i>“It is possible to live and NOT know,”</i> Richard Feynman dissented in his memorable meditation on the responsibility of scientists. John Keats called for “negative capability” — …

The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers

Famous authors are notorious for their daily routines — sometimes outrageous, usually obsessive, invariably peculiar. In <b>Odd Type Writers: From Joyce and Dickens to Wharton and Welty, the Obsessive Habits and Quirky Techniques of Great Authors</b> (<i>public library</i>) — the more dimensional and thoroughly …

Samuel Johnson on Writing and Creative Doggedness

English poet, essayist,literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer <b>Samuel Johnson</b> (September 18, 1709–December 13, 1784) endures as one of the most influential figures in literary history. His <i>Dictionary of the English Language</i>, originally published in 1755, is celebrated as one of the …

Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life

The seasonal trope of the commencement address is upon us as wisdom on life is being dispensed from graduation podiums around the world. After Greil Marcus’s meditation on the essence of art and Neil Gaiman’s counsel on the creative life, here comes a heartening speech by artist, strategist, and …